NFC East not the NFC least this year

The NFC East has been a shell of its former self the past couple of seasons. The Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins haven’t been major players on the NFL landscape in a number of years and the New York Giants have struggled outside of those Super Bowl years in 2007 and 2011. In short, the NFC (L)East hasn’t factored in the NFL in quite some time.

Until now.

All of the sudden, the NFC East now has two of the best teams in the NFL with Philadelphia and Dallas sitting at 5-1, tied with the San Diego Chargers for the best record in the league. And with the way the Eagles and Cowboys are winning, it’s hard to argue that the division isn’t the best division in the league.

The biggest surprise in the NFC East has to be the Cowboys. Yes, Chip Kelly’s offense continues to impress, but they were good last year and are continuing that this season. Before the year began, though, everyone would have laughed at you if you had said the Cowboys would be 5-1 and beat/dominate the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle. They were nothing but 8-8 and .500 before that and with no major acquisitions that would make them an instant winner.

But the Cowboys have caught lightning in a bottle, with quarterback Tony Romo holding up remarkably well considering his back surgery in the offseason, a commitment to the running game and a defense that’s punching well above its weight. So far this season, running back DeMarco Murray has had five games of 100 yards rushing or more and has six touchdowns on the ground, which has taken a lot of pressure off of Romo. The key for the Cowboys offense going into the season was committing to the run game, which had been talked about before, but nothing ever came of it. Now they’re actually doing it and the results speak for themselves.

And the defense has played strong too. Once thought to be an incredible weak spot on the team, the defense is a respectable 15th in the league in total defense, giving up 342.5 yards per game, and 12th in the league in pass defense with 227.5 yards per game. It’s not perfect, but considering the injuries and struggles they’ve had in the past, it’s a pretty good improvement.

And then there are the Eagles. We saw what they can do last year and this year they’re proving that it wasn’t a fluke. It hasn’t able been perfect, especially after not scoring an offensive touchdown against San Francisco, but a 5-1 record is a 5-1 record and they are seventh in the league in total offense and second in points scored. That’s a recipe for success, which the Eagles have found with Kelly at the helm.

Of course, there’s still a long way to go in this season and the NFC West presents a formidable challenge with Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona, who can still each make the postseason. And then there’s also the AFC West with San Diego, Denver and Kansas City.

But I have a good feeling that the NFC East will once again be a factor in determining the NFC Champion and will be the toughest division in the league once again.

So much for the NFC Least.